By NNPA Newswire
The African Diaspora in the United States is a source of strength.
It encompasses African Americans, including descendants of enslaved Africans, and nearly two million African immigrants who have close familial, social, and economic connections to the continent.
The African immigrant community makes significant contributions to America’s growth and prosperity.
The African Diaspora – i.e., people of native African origin living outside the continent—has been described as the sixth region of African Union.
The African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, held on December 13 in Washington, DC as part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, reflected the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to strengthening the dialogue between U.S. officials and the Diaspora in the United States, as described in the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa.
During the Forum, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the creation of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States (PAC-ADE).
On Dec. 13, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) directing the Secretary of State to establish PAC-ADE, which will enhance the dialogue between United States officials and the African Diaspora.
The order encourages efforts to advance equity and opportunity for the African Diaspora in the United States and strengthen cultural, social, political, and economic ties between African communities, the global African Diaspora, and the United States.
PAC-ADE will consist of diverse representatives from African American and African immigrant communities who have distinguished themselves in government, sports, creative industries, business, academia, social work, and faith-based activities.
PAC-ADE will provide information, analysis, and recommendations to the President regarding:
• Strategies to advance equity and opportunity for African Diaspora communities.
• Ways to support the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.
• Programs and initiatives to strengthen cultural, social, political, and economic ties among the African communities, the global African Diaspora, and the United States and address challenges and opportunities to advance inclusion, belonging, and public awareness of the diversity, accomplishments, culture, and history of the African Diaspora.
• Programs and initiatives, such as the International Visitor Leadership Program, to expand educational exchange programs between Africa and the United States.
• Programs and initiatives to increase public- and private-sector collaboration and community involvement in improving the socioeconomic well being of African Diaspora communities; and
• Programs and initiatives, such as Prosper Africa, to increase the participation of members of the African Diaspora in the United States regarding trade, investment, economic growth, and development programs relating to Africa.
In addition to the new PAC-ADE, the U.S. Government is investing in Diaspora engagement, including through its support for higher education and workforce development, the creative industries and entrepreneurship, and environmental equity.
Africa’s large, dynamic youth population creates exciting opportunities for innovation and economic growth on the continent.
Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, the United States has invested over $385 million in education and youth leadership programming.
The administration intends to invest more than $690 million over the next two years, for a total of nearly $1.1 billion.
Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Expansion:
The vice president announced plans to work with Congress to provide over $100 million toward YALI over multiple years to scale and sustain leadership development, increase access to skills training among women and other underrepresented groups, and enhance alumni networking, including connections with the Diaspora.
This will include a new Young African Leaders Exchange, which will be the first pan-African virtual platform allowing the Diaspora and other key stakeholders to directly connect with YALI alumni.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship YALI program, will also hold an Alumni Symposium in March 2023, in South Africa, for up to 500 alumni from the 2021 cohort.
Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM):
EXIM and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) are signing a $500 million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expand Diaspora commercial engagement across Africa, increase access and awareness of both institutions’ financial products, and support exports of U.S. goods and services in a variety of sectors.
The vice president announced that EXIM will sign over $1 billion of MOUs during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit to foster economic opportunity and support jobs throughout Africa and the United States.
African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP):
The vice president announced plans to provide, working with Congress, $1 million for AWEP, which will fund small grants to train women entrepreneurs and support women-owned businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.
University Partnerships Initiative (UPI):
The vice president announced the Department of Education will provide $1.5 million to facilitate U.S.-Africa university exchanges, joint research, collaboration on academic administration, and public-private partnerships.
U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) Partnerships:
The USADF will partner with philanthropic foundations to leverage Diaspora ties and support African entrepreneurship:
USADF and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation Partnership to
Increase Investment and Development in Africa:
The NBPA Foundation and USADF will launch a grant multiplier mechanism to provide capital for African enterprises and community-led initiatives.
USADF and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Partnership to Encourage African Entrepreneurship:
The vice president announced that USADF, working with Congress, and TEF plan to contribute up to $4 million to provide investment toolkits in the form of non-repayable capital of up to $5,000 to African entrepreneurs and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The program aims to increase job creation and income opportunities for young entrepreneurs and their employees, and increase the revenue, profitability, and competitiveness of MSMEs.
USADF Inaugural Annual Diaspora Award:
USADF launched an annual award Diaspora Award that will provide funding for U.S.-based businesses owned and led by members of the African Diaspora to strengthen trade and investment relationships with African small and medium enterprises.
Global Leaders – African Descent Social Entrepreneurship Program:
The Department of State intends to provide $500,000 to engage social entrepreneurs of African descent globally and launch the African Descent Social Entrepreneurship Network, a tool for leaders to share best practices for economic prosperity through social entrepreneurship and collaborate with like-minded partners.
The inaugural program will connect 52 foreign participants and 25 Americans and include collaboration with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Atlanta, San Antonio, and New Orleans.
Global Leaders – African Descent Social Entrepreneurship Program:
In May 2023 in South Africa, the Department of State plans to convene U.S. higher education representatives and education stakeholders from across the continent to explore strategies for increasing the recruitment and retention of African students on a range of U.S. campuses.
The event will place particular focus on building relationships with future leaders, diversifying student pipelines, and matching international training and educational opportunities with local workforce and economic development needs.
Supporting Summer Work Travel:
Working with Congress, the Department of State plans to award up to 50 scholarships, totaling approximately $90,000, to exchange visitors from across Africa.
International Visitor Leadership Program Project on Transparency and Accountability in Government:
This $475,000 project promotes transparency and accountability in government to ensure public trust in the integrity and fairness of elected officials, public servants, and the institutions of government.